Less crime, high clearance rate in Huntsville

Deputy Chief DeWayne McCarver breaks down 2021 annual report on crime
Published: Jul. 1, 2022 at 7:16 AM CDT
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HUNTSVILLE, Ala. (WAFF) - Huntsville’s population is growing at a fast pace, but the crime rate is taking on a different trend. The homicide rate is lower than it was prior to the COVID-19 pandemic, when you take into account population growth.

According to the Huntsville Police Department’s 2021 annual report on crime, there were 25 homicides in 2021. Deputy Chief DeWayne McCarver said that number is promising compared to previous years. There were 24 homicides in 2019, and 29 in 2018. He said some departments worry that a larger population size leads to more crime, but that’s not the case based off these numbers.

“It’s a testament to the great work of our investigators, our police officers, and the awesome community that we live in here in Huntsville,” McCarver said.

McCarver said there was also a significant decline in crime in 2020 during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Deputy Chief McCarver said investigators are “clearing” or solving crimes at a high rate. He said that’s critical, especially when the national homicide clearance rate is historically low. In fact, less than half of homicides nationwide were solved in 2020. McCarver said that’s created a huge backlog of cases for detectives in many departments. In Huntsville, though, investigators are keeping up.

According to Huntsville Police, law enforcement agencies can clear, or “close,” offenses in one of two ways: by arrest or by exceptional means. According to HPD’s annual report, the department’s clearance rate for 2021 was 100 percent. Every case designated as a homicide was resolved one way or another.

“When you are in a city like Huntsville where the economy is doing really well, people are happy, people can find the jobs that they need...It is going to naturally bring the crime rate down and as the crime rate lowers, we have the resources then to work on every single crime,” McCarver said.

McCarver said detectives have been leveraging new technologies and programs, such as the camera share program. That allows the public to share videos with officers that may lead to an arrest. McCarver also said detectives are dusting off old files, and focusing on larger cases.

“We have investigators who are assigned to work cold cases specifically, but now the other members of the unit are working with them on some of those older cases,” McCarver said. “So not only do we have 100 percent clearance rate for 2021, but we cleared almost all of our cases in 2020 so we are having to go back quite a ways now to reopen and really look, take a deeper dive into a lot of older cases.”

McCarver believes people are less likely to commit crimes, when crimes in the city are solved quickly.

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